Improving Athletic Performance in Adolescents
Resistance training is an essential part of any training program due to its' ability to reduce injury risk and improve sports performance. Adolescents can safely resistance train if they are properly supervised and can perform movements correctly. One of the foundations of any strengthening program is the squat. The squat is an incredible training tool for the development of strength, speed, and sports performance. This exercise focuses on the transfer of forces and weight in a vertical direction where as a newer exercise, the hip thrust, focuses on the transfer of forces in a horizontal direction. This second exercise may be best for sports requiring horizontal transfer of forces such as sprinting.
Contreras and colleagues studied these two exercises to determine which strengthening exercise showed the greatest improvement in adolescent performance (J Strength Conditioning Research 2016). The authors randomized 28 adolescent athletes (14-17) to either a front squat or hip thrust training program, twice per week for 6 weeks. Athletes were tested both before and after the training program on a battery of athletic performance tests including sprinting, jumping, and strength testing. At the conclusion of 6 weeks, the athletes who performed the hip thrust training program showed beneficial effects on the sprint times indicating the exercise may be a helpful addition to strength programs for horizontal movement athletes (football, sprinting).
Athletes are encouraged to work with a local Physical Therapist to determine the most important exercises for their strength training program to reduce injury risk and improve performance.